Northampton boss Jim Mallinder hails Tom Collins after hat-trick sinks Worcester
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder hailed the finishing skills of young winger Tom Collins as he scored a hat-trick in the 38-18 win over Worcester.
The 21-year-old was only playing because of injury to Jamie Elliott and due to George North being on international duty, but the Northampton academy product, whose father Darren is a former Northampton Town and Rushden & Diamonds striker, took his chance superbly.
The Saints' three other tries came from Lee Dickson, Harry Mallinder and George Pisi as the five-point win lifted them, at least temporarily, into the Aviva Premiership's top four.
Mallinder said: "Tom is a cracking finisher and has good feet - he played well today. He is still young and still has parts of his game to work on, but he is showing a lot of promise.
"We have got some good wingers; Jamie Elliott has been playing well, but got a knock last week, and of course we have George, but it is nice to have youngsters from the area coming through.
"We talked about playing our fast wingers today, because we thought the track would be a bit firmer, and it was a good opportunity for Tom to play."
It was a second five-point win at home in a row for Northampton, who are finally looking like the side that won the Premiership in 2014.
"We have won three of our last four games," Mallinder said. "It is not easy around this period with the internationals and players being away and coming back.
"We had Luther (Burrell) away and Brookesy (Kieran Brookes) away, while Courtney (Lawes) was picked in the team and then he goes away. It is not an easy time to get all the lads organised.
"It is close, really tight at the top. We have to keep being positive, playing good rugby and we look forward to taking on Saracens next week."
Worcester director of rugby Dean Ryan was critical of his side's mistakes in the second half, having led 15-12 at the interval with tries from Val Rapava Ruskin and Wynand Olivier.
"We contributed to their field position as much as their own pressure and you just can't do that," Ryan said. "Not-straight throws, not getting our job right, and defensive errors mean you're always going to find yourself in that bottom corner.
"There were a lot of positives in the first half about the way we were playing the game, but you have to underpin it with some sounds foundations and today it wasn't good enough .
"We dropped the kick-off after half-time, and they scored from that. That has happened two or three times this year - other than telling people to catch the ball I'm not sure what else we can do.
"We can't have that error count and expect to play against the best sides. It is frustrating because it is some of the basics of the game."